2023 Maserati Grecale Targets the Porsche Macan

The concept of a Maserati SUV appears a lot much less radical in 2022 than it did in 2016 when the Levante debuted, and the Italian model has broader ambitions for the smaller, cheaper Grecale that’s now being launched into some of the aggressive components of the luxurious market. The Grecale’s good-looking however barely acquainted design is sufficient to present that one rival is being focused extra carefully than others, nonetheless: The Maserati’s core mission is to influence Porsche Macan intenders to defect.

The Grecale sits on an prolonged model of the Giorgio platform that underpins each the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Giulia. On the backside of the vary, the Grecale GT has a 296-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that includes 48-volt hybrid help. It is a model of the FCA International Medium Engine, the identical one present in Wranglers and Alfas. Above that could be a barely extra highly effective mid-ranker referred to as the Modena, which has a 325-horsepower model of that very same engine. It additionally provides adaptive dampers and a limited-slip differential on the rear. And on the prime of the pile is the extra compelling Trofeo, which makes use of a barely detuned model of the Nettuno twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 developed for the mid-engine MC20 sports activities automobile (together with the identical pre-chamber ignition system), and it makes a claimed 523 horsepower. The Trofeo additionally will get a typical air springs and an electronically managed limited-slip rear diff.

Most of our first drive in Italy was performed in a Modena—acceptable on condition that Maserati reckons it’ll make up the vast majority of U.S. gross sales—however we additionally managed a briefer flip within the Trofeo. Spoiler alert: It is the thrilling one.

First impressions are robust. You’ll be hard-pressed to name the Grecale an particularly authentic piece of design, particularly its Macan-esque hood and headlights. But it’s undeniably good-looking from each viewing angle, with the styling crew’s choice to eschew the customary grey decrease physique cladding that’s usually shorthand for “crossover” making it look extra like a tall, elegant hatchback when seen from the aspect. The apparent lack of floor clearance is one other clear indication this can be a automobile designed for highway, not path.

Moving into the cabin means encountering the delicate shock of touch-sensitive door launch switches contained in the apertures for what appear to be standard handles. Small electrical launch buttons on the inside door panels use the identical expertise, though the pared-back look these are supposed to ship is negated by the necessity for separate mechanical levers farther down to offer redundancy within the occasion of energy failure. Past that anomaly, a lot switchgear has been culled, with most capabilities managed by twin touchscreens. They run Maserati’s new person interface system, which works cleanly and simply, though minor capabilities are sometimes hidden in submenus. There isn’t any standard gear selector, as Maserati persists in utilizing PRND contact buttons like an early ’60s Chrysler. One other neat element is a spherical digital clock with reconfigurable faces.

The standard of inside trim is impressively excessive with a stitched leather-based dashboard dealing with and metallic speaker grilles. House is sweet for each front- and rear-seat occupants—the Grecale would not really feel any smaller than the Levante inside, with sufficient room for full-size adults to sit down behind one another.

The impression of luxurious takes a success when the Modena’s engine begins. The Grecale is not the primary four-cylinder Maserati (the Ghibli and Levante hybrids bought in different markets have them), however the the four-banger leaves little doubt as to what it’s with a busy thrum at idle. Past that, the exhaust word finds a cleaner voice, however it by no means harmonizes into something compelling.

On the plus aspect, efficiency feels respectably brisk and is delivered with out obvious effort. There may be little level in attempting to achieve the rev limiter, and in Drive the automated gearbox all the time chooses to upshift effectively earlier than the marked redline at 6000 rpm. However a broad unfold of torque and the transmission’s clever use of its eight ratios ship robust urge with out the engine venturing from its midrange. The 48-volt starter-generator is claimed so as to add help to masks turbo lag, however a slight hesitancy was nonetheless apparent at decrease engine revs when shifting gears below guide management—though Maserati deserves credit score for the texture and weight of the metallic shift paddles, a element many automakers neglect.

The vehicles in Italy have been all driving on Pirelli winter tires, regardless of heat and dry circumstances on the day of our drive. Their restricted grip made it straightforward to push the Modena’s entrance finish into understeer, but in addition to sense that the front-rear dealing with steadiness is impressively benign. Maserati says the Grecale is primarily rear-driven with torque solely transferred to the entrance axle when vital, through an electronically managed coupling. Stickier rubber ought to give the possibility to expertise that correctly.

The Modena’s metal springs really feel tender, definitely with the adaptive dampers of their Consolation setting, with noticeable roll throughout cornering and squat below acceleration. Choosing the firmer GT or Sport modes improved physique management with out making the experience unduly harsh, and each modes dealt with excessive speeds on a twisty stretch of Italian autostrada with out drama. The steering is much less spectacular, with a springy resistance across the straight-ahead that denies any significant suggestions, however the e-boosted brake pedal has an excellent weight and really feel.

Whereas the Grecale Modena imparts competence slightly than exhilaration, our shorter flip within the Trofeo greater than reset the steadiness of thrills. The Nettuno V-6 engine is the undoubted star, and whereas it now sits above a moist sump and makes 98 fewer horses than within the MC20, Maserati’s declare of a 3.6-second zero-to-60-mph time nonetheless strikes us as totally possible. The Trofeo additionally features a Corsa dynamic mode, and selecting both this or Sport offers a head-nodding torque bump on upshifts. Corsa additionally turned the lively dampers too stiff for highway use, with even minor imperfections sending a shiver by the Grecale’s construction, however it’s potential to toggle the dampers softer whereas maintaining the remainder of the Corsa settings. In gentler modes, the air springs nonetheless really feel pliant by section requirements, with the Trofeo’s physique transferring noticeably below larger loadings.

Regardless of additionally carrying winter tires, the Trofeo’s steering felt significantly better than the Modena’s, with firmer and extra pure weighting. The electronically managed differential on the rear is also felt working onerous to maximise traction in lower-speed corners. Unusually, the brake pedal felt softer and fewer responsive than the one within the Modena, regardless of larger six-pot calipers on the entrance. There was little resistance and a marked grabbiness at low speeds.

The Grecale Trofeo is significantly extra thrilling than the smaller-engine Modena, to no nice shock, however it additionally feels higher resolved. Given the excellence of the Porsche Macan, we suspect that the four-cylinder automobile goes to have a tricky time out there, particularly with a $64,995 beginning worth for the entry-level GT that positions it effectively above the bottom Macan.

However probably the most radical Grecale will nearly definitely be the electrical Folgore, which will likely be Maserati’s first try at an EV when it arrives subsequent 12 months. That one actually will actually really feel like a tradition shock.

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Patrick Moore

Patrick is our chief editor and he's very passionate about cars. He has a bachelor's degree in marketing and he studies journalism. His favorite brand is BMW and he drives an X5 series. When he's not writing for Vehiclenews.net, he enjoys spending time with his family and 9 years old son.

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